Understanding America’s Love Affair with Hot Sauce

Martin SmazenkoHot SaucesLeave a Comment

Hot Sauce

Americans love their hot sauce. Between 2000 and 2013, the U.S. hot sauce market has grown 150 percent. This growth comes in spite of the fact that the hot sauce industry does very little advertising. The fact that nearly all of this growth has happened organically is impressive. So what has fueled America’s love affair with the hot?

Many factors influence the rapid growth of the hot sauce industry. First among them is the increasing diversity of the American consumer. Many sauces have ethnic roots and have stealthily creeped into our homes just as the heat of our favorite hot sauce sneaks up on the palette. For many decades, “Tabasco” brand sauce was the primary player in the market. While they are still the leader, accounting for 18 percent of the U.S. market, brands such as “Cholula”, “Sriracha”, and others have quietly snuck into our restaurants, grocery stores, and homes.

Another powerful force in the growth of hot sauce sales without a lot of advertising, is the millennial generation. Ted Chung of Cashmere, a marketing agency that targets millennials, tells Fast Company, “Millennials are more adventurous and curious than previous generations.” He goes on to say, “They take pleasure in feeling they are uncovering a new culture or flavor profile on their own.”

Hot Sauce

This discovery of new hot sauces and flavors has become easier than ever with many cities now hosting hot sauce and chile festivals. With 167 businesses in the hot sauce industry, the heat and flavor profiles of hot sauces are as varied and diverse as the people who love them. As people discover new sauces, they like to share them with friends. This is true in general and especially with millennials. A 2007 hot sauce marketing study using a nationwide sample of the U.S. population found that 68 percent of respondents use hot sauce. Of those who reported using hot sauce, 52 percent said they have a favorite brand. Further, the study found that 71 percent of hot sauce using respondents said they would use a brand that was not their favorite. 65 percent of respondents reported that free samples are the most influential factor in trying new brands of sauce; while 56 percent stated that word of mouth is a big factor.

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce has now even entered the political stage. Supporters of 2016 Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, have created a sauce to promote their favorite candidate. Playing on his campaign theme,”Feel The Bern” hot sauce is now available online. One may wonder if this has anything to do with Sanders large following of millennials? Candidate Hillary Clinton is an aficionado of the heat. The Associated Press reports that “at a farm stand in Davenport, Iowa, this fall, Clinton detailed scientific research on the health effects of spicy food, telling a cashier that she finds eating raw jalapeños “so refreshing.””  It is also reported that as First Lady, she kept more than 100 hot sauces in the pantry. Candidate Jeb Bush recently spoke with Huffington Post after some last-minute Christmas shopping. One of his gifts was a bottle of “Slap Your Mama” brand hot sauce for his mother and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

I’m convinced that America has a love affair with hot sauce. Discover your new favorite hot sauce from Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Co.

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